Set in the fictional Ontario town of Elgin at the beginning of the twentieth century, this 1904 novel was in its own time addressed largely to British readers. It has since become a Canadian classic, beloved for its ironic and dryly humorous portrait of small-town life. But The Imperialist is also a fascinating representation of race, gender, and nationalism in Britain’s “settler colonies.” This Broadview edition provides a wealth of contextual material invaluable to understanding the novel’s historical context, and particularly the debate, central to the story, over Edwardian Canada’s role in the British Empire.
This edition includes a critical introduction and, in the appendices, excerpts from Sara Jeannette Duncan’s journalism and autobiographical sketches (including an essay on “North American Indians”), speeches by Canadian and British politicians, political cartoons, and recipes for the dishes served at the novel’s social gatherings. Contemporary reviews of the novel from British, Canadian, and American periodicals are also included.
“Despite its literary excellence, The Imperialist can be a challenging book. The thoughtful notation and well-chosen appendices of this edition do much to overcome the distance created by the passage of a century that saw dramatic changes in ideas and social expectations. Misao Dean enables us to appreciate Sara Jeannette Duncan as a sophisticated woman who adhered to some values of her day and contested others, and to admire her courage in writing a realistic novel about highly-charged political issues whose legacy affects us today.” — Carole Gerson, Simon Fraser University